One would think that in over 20 years of making music, your chances of falling into the claws of time, leaving you worn and uninspired, are greater than high. Well, metal veterans Bullet For My Valentine say “fuck those odds” as they gear up to unleash their heaviest and boldest release to date.
The band’s seventh studio album serves as a testament to the power of daring to do what you want, vocalist Matt Tuck proudly tells BLUNT – and having sat on this beast for eight months after its completion, he’s just as excited for you all to finally experience it.
You’ve said that this album comes from a far more aggressive and intense part of Bullet For My Valentine, and that it’s actually something that’s always been there, just waiting to come out. What prompted you to let it out, and why now?
It was just what was going on in the writing sessions, you know? We just approached it as we do every album. We had a bit of time off in between tours, we get together, just throw ideas down and make a start just to see what’s happening musically and creatively.
This time around we got in the studio, we worked on and off for about six-to-eight weeks in 2019 to just make a head start on at least trying to find what the vibe was for this record – where we were going, what was vibing us up, and you know, after about six or eight weeks of on-and-off sessions we finally wrote the song ‘Knives’. That kind of changed and started everything at the same time. It just really excited us that it was so heavy, it just made the vibe a lot more electric in the room and everyone was vibing on the heavy stuff, really. As soon as ‘Knives’ came along, it kind of kicked the door down to just… Be brave and just do what we wanted to do.
The album is powerful and quite frankly ferocious. How did the band navigate channelling this energy in such a harrowing and often demoralising climate? I understand you started writing pre-pandemic, did the global situation affect the direction of writing at any point?
No, thankfully not. We’d already kind of written a couple of the key tracks like ‘Knives’ which gave us the direction and that’s where we were heading and that’s what we were focused on so thankfully we got together in the downtime in 2019 and made the start. The only thing it did was just put the brakes on for two or three months, really, at the writing process and in that time I just kind of used it at home, trying to continue on writing and the boys were doing the same in their places.
We just tried to keep the energy and people’s morale up. Obviously, it was a very uncertain time. It still is in many ways, but it was at that point as well, between March to May/June last year, obviously the pandemic was at the height of its craziness, I guess. We just kind of tried to keep morale up. We knew where the album was going, we just had to kind of sit and wait and be patient to be able to continue the process.
I think it’s so important to have something to kind of hold on to, especially during that time.
Yeah, looking back it was probably an important integral part of the album process you know? We’re just fortunate enough we did that at that time.
“We’re writing songs, we’re still enjoying what we do, and thankfully there’s lots of people that really enjoy listening to what we create...“
Having listened to the album a few times through, I feel like it encapsulates everything disgustingly beautiful about metal, from the face-melting riffs to the blunt lyrics. It doesn’t beat around the bush. What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to with this release?
Just getting it out there, really. That’s the most exciting time for the band is you know… We spent the best part of a year creating this, so I think having to sit on it for another eight-to-nine months after you finish it is a very long period of time [laughs]. I think just getting it out there and people listening to it and people to enjoy it. Obviously getting back out on the road at some point in the future will be great and a very joyous occasion for everyone. But for now, all we can really do is get excited for the release and for people to hear the album in its entirety. The most exciting part for us is gearing up for the release date.
Being the well-seasoned juggernauts of the metal scene that you are, I gather you have a good sense of how fans might react to this record. Is that something you actively considered when going in to write this one?
We’ve always kind of done things the way we’ve wanted to do them, musically. We’ve never really been a band that’s – thankfully – taken on the acclaim or the hate, really, we just kind of do what we do. Thankfully we’ve managed to stick around for so long [laughs]. It’s just one of those things. I think just writing what you want to do, staying true to yourself musically, not being afraid of what people think. It’s kind of very liberating. It just gives you that freedom to do what you want to do. We’ve always done that from The Poison to Fever then to Gravity now to this. There’s lots of ups and downs musically and stylistically in Bullet For My Valentine – it’s something that we’ve always embraced, you know? We just take each album as it comes and do what makes us happy, really.
That’s a beautiful answer and you’ve kind of answered another question I had within that which was going to be, you know, seven studio albums into the thick of it – what’s been the constant for you and the band over the last 20 odd years? Would you say that liberated feeling of doing what you want is part of that?
Yeah, absolutely! It’s music… And without getting too artsy with it, it’s like art. It’s a piece of all of us in the band and it’s just something that… We never got into a band to write for other people, we just did it because we loved it and we enjoyed it. We just wanted to create songs and be happy and hopefully one day, tour the world and make a career out of it. So, I think just holding onto those feelings of remembering what it was like pre-getting signed and it’s good, you know?
In the first couple of albums where there was a lot of hype about the band and then albums two and three were a little bit, kind of listening to other people’s opinions and stuff. It’s kind of impossible for them not to creep in at some point but I think we’ve learnt from Fever onwards that we just seem to kind of do what we do and people dig it, so let’s just not worry about all that stuff. Let’s just continue on with what we do and just write. Do what we like and we’re aware that we’re not going to please all the people all the time from album to album. It’s impossible, so as soon as you come to terms with that, it just gives you that freedom to just write songs. That’s all it needs to be. We’re writing songs, we’re still enjoying what we do, and thankfully there’s lots of people that really enjoy listening to what we create.
“It’s going to be a pretty euphoric time for everyone when the world does get its shit together and live music can do what it does: bring joy and happiness and passion to venues and stages across the planet...“
I’m really excited about this album because like you said, it’s one of the heaviest records that you’ve put out so far and because it’s been something that’s always sort of been there, do you think this is something that you envision to continue moving forward? Do you expect it to change again?
Well historically I would probably expect it to change. As exciting as every album release is, you tour it for a couple of years and do that. For me, I like to be challenged. The band needs to be challenged. We don’t really like to recreate things from the past, we’re trying to look for something fresh, something new. There’ll always be that heavy element to the band, it’s been there since day one and it will be there until the end. It’s difficult to say because this album is still so fresh.
Maybe in a year or two when we think about another one and we get in a room we’ll see what happens. I think we’ve always had that metal aggressive kind of tone in the music – that’s not going anywhere. Even in Gravity it was there in certain songs it was just executed in a different way. That’s the beauty of what we do, we like to be challenged and not try to recreate the band from album to album but let the band evolve and let the band do what it needs to do, naturally. It’s worked well so far; I don’t think we’ll ever change that.
Now my next question isn’t original in any shape or form whatsoever, however, I ask with the underlying selfish purpose of expanding my personal Spotify playlist. What have you been spinning these days, particularly around the time of writing the record?
I’ve got a very eclectic taste now as the years have passed and I’ve kind of gotten more into the art of songwriting, I just kind of listen to everything really. I listen to everything from polished pop records like Justin Bieber––
JB is GOOD!
Yeah, gotta love the Biebs man! And everything from trying to keep up to date with young and up and coming metal bands as well to kind of see what’s going on and give me a kick up the arse and try and keep me motivated to find that energy that you [have] when you’re a young band. I think one of the bands I’ve really been listening a lot to lately is a band from the UK – they’re not a new band but they’re a band that I’ve discovered in the last 18 months or so. They’re a Scottish band called Bleed From Within. They kind of encapsulate everything I love about modern metal. It’s ferocious, it’s technical, full of riffs and solos. Their new record is phenomenal, really, really good so go check it out.
Finally, I know it’s too early to even think about given Australia is still so up and down with our COVID progress, but I know whenever you do end up making it back our way it will be a fucking cathartic time. Can you make a promise to keep up the momentum and rip our heads off when you’re here?
Absolutely! Making albums and doing that, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s when you get to create your art and you get to kind of produce something magical that lasts forever. I love writing records, it’s a really, really amazing experience even though it’s hard and it’s long and draining at times. It’s still something which is a really personal, amazing experience.
Not a lot of people get to do that so it’s still something that we really enjoy but obviously travelling to really cool places and delivering that music on a stage in front of fans with energy and love and passion and voices and sweat… That’s a completely amazing, different part of what we do so… We’ve been starved of it as performers, as much as the fans at shows. It’s going to be a pretty euphoric time for everyone when the world does get its shit together and live music can do what it does: bring joy and happiness and passion to venues and stages across the planet. It’s something that’s been really a missing integral part of people’s lives these last 18 months.
The energy will most certainly be there – no need to worry about that.
Bullet For My Valentine is out November 5th via Spinefarm / Universal
Click here to pre-order and/or pre-save it